Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa Performed in the Years 1850-51, Volume 1 eBook

James Richardson (explorer of the Sahara)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 295 pages of information about Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa Performed in the Years 1850-51, Volume 1.
inscriptions; but there was nothing remarkable revealed by this admirable geological section.  It was mostly sandstone for the upper strata, with narrow streaks of marl and chalk.  Some slate was observed, and frequently our way lay over beds of red clay.  An agreeable surprise awaited us occasionally, in the shape of little openings containing groups of the tholukh; but the general aspect of the pass was horrible and desolate, and we eagerly pushed on towards the end.  There was nothing, apparently, to support life; but we found and caught a young fox:  how the little wretch procured food was a mystery which our guides could not explain.  However, life no doubt had its joys for him, and we let him loose in the plain below.  I also picked up a dead bird, of a species common in the desert, with white head or cap, and white tail, except the upper feathers; all the rest, legs and bill, black.  It is about the size of a lark, but has a head like a blackbird.  We supposed the one found had died from want of water, though it may have been killed by the mother of the young fox.

On emerging from the pass at length we found a considerable change of level, and having advanced a little way turned back and obtained a splendid view of the walls of the plateau, which stretched on both sides above the plain, and thrust out lofty bluff promontories, as into the sea.  The upper lines of some of them were perfectly straight, as if levelled by artificial means.  We came to a solitary rock on the plain, containing excavations that seemed to be the work of men.  Here, we were told, Dr. Oudney once stopped and breakfasted.

We have now a pretty correct idea of the great central table-land of Fezzan.  It is an elevation, not quite clearly marked to the eye on some of its northern approaches, but dropping sheer to the plain at other parts.  Mourzuk is situated in a sandy depression on its surface, which would probably be turned into a salt lake if there were sufficient rain.  The limits of the hollow, as of that of many others—­Wady Atbah for example—­are not noticed by the traveller.  Whether he approaches or leaves Mourzuk, he seems still to be traversing a level plain, and only finds his mistake by noticing the change in the nature of the ground, the presence of marshes, of green vegetation, and of a heavy, stifling atmosphere.


Plain of Taeeta—­Fezzan Boundary—­Fossils—­Tuarick Behaviour—­Valley of Tabea—­Observations—­Fasting—­Tuarick Habits—­Scorpions and Locusts—­Visitors—­Heat—­Roads—­Hot Wind—­Pass of Abulaghlagh—­The Palace of Demons—­Wheat hid in the Desert—­Land of Demons—­Kasar Janoon—­A dear Camel—­Visit to the Kasar—­Perilous Adventure of Dr. Barth.

On the 8th we pursued our course over the monotonous undulating plain of Taeeta, to which we had descended.  It was a little hotter, because lower than yesterday; and the country is more parched, more arid, more desolate, than ever.  No herbage for camels is found in these parts, and we had been compelled to carry some with us from Wady Haghaneen, and to wake up with dates, of which the camels ate voraciously as a treat.  Beetles and lizards were the only living things we saw.

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Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa Performed in the Years 1850-51, Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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